Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Of these teams with new coaches and green rosters — Phoenix, Boston, Philadelphia, Sacramento — which holds the most short-term hope? Long-term?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Sacramento is my short-term choice, because their roster is the closest to being ready for prime time and I think they’re the most eager of the four to win now. Long-term? Tradition favors Boston. Phoenix is the most proven free-agent magnet of the bunch. But my hunch is, the franchise that pops up highest in the 2014 Draft will be the one with the most legitimate shot over time.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Short-term I’ll go with Boston just because the Celtics sport the best player — Rajon Rondo. Long-term, the easy answer is whoever wins the Andrew Wiggins lottery. I’ll take Philly as the long-term pick. Assuming Nerlens Noel can fully recover, the Sixers already have two key young pieces and should be dreadful enough to add two more high lottery picks in 2014, including the best odds of landing Wiggins. It’s also a vote of confidence in the long term leadership pairing of GM Sam Hinkie and coach Brett Brown.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Short-term hope: Sacramento. The good vibes are rocking Sac with the team being saved and new ownership, management and coaching staff delivering refreshing new attitudes. I like the addition of Greivis Vasquez to run the point, and if — IF — DeMarcus Cousins adds a screwed-on-tight head to his new extension, well, maybe a new day will dawn in California’s capital. Long-term hope: Boston. This is a tough one, but the Celtics have an All-Star point guard on the roster and that’s huge. Rajon Rondo seems committed to see through this rebuild (as long as GM Danny Ainge is, too). Ainge did well to get 7-footer Kelly Olynyk in the Draft as a potential pillar. Boston is a franchise capable of attracting major free agents and Ainge also has a nice haul of future Draft picks to hand over to coach Brad Stevens.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Short term: the Kings. Partly because there will be real signs of progress this season and partly because the Suns and Sixers are clearly at the bottom of their conferences while the Celtics need to first prove they can locate the ripcord on the parachute. Boston may not yet be recovering.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Short-term, Sacramento is the best team. Unlike the other three rosters, they have several guys who actually belong in an NBA rotation. And with Greivis Vasquez running the point, they might actually pass the ball this season. Long-term, the Kings could certainly regret giving an underachiever like DeMarcus Cousins a $62 million extension. And as bad as they’ll be this season, the Sixers have the most hope long-term, because it’s very likely that they’ll have four Lottery picks between the 2013 and ’14 Drafts. Two they picked this year – Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams – have the tools (size and athleticism) to be very good players someday. They may turn out to be busts, but the hope is certainly there.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: The most short-term hope for success is in Sacramento, where the talent of DeMarcus Cousins awaits coach Mike Malone and his staff. You can still build a team around a franchise big man, if that is indeed what Cousins is (destined to be). There is a lot to work with on that roster, which is loaded with talent at several positions. I’ve been high on Malone for years and believe he’ll infuse a certain strength and confidence in Sacramento that has been lacking in recent years. But if Cousins isn’t who his cheerleaders think he is … well, that’s why they are the short-term winner. Long-term — and I honestly feel crazy saying this — but that train wreck we saw last season and all summer in Philadelphia is clearing up slowly but surely. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams could be an absolute steal from the Draft. With a healthy Nerlens Noel and the right pick in the lottery of the 2014 Draft, the Sixers will have a chance to piece together the core of a playoff contender for years to come. Of course, things have to fall into place on several fronts. But as far as long-term potential, the Sixers will have the flexibility to go in several positive directions in the future.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Short term, I’d say Sacramento. We know the Kings have a really good collection of young players, led by DeMarcus Cousins, rookie Ben McLemore, Greivis Vasquez and I have to think the ending of the craziness that accompanied the arena uncertainty the last few seasons can only be a good thing. If organizations look for strength and leadership from the top, the new ownership in place in Sacto would seem to be a harbinger of good things to come. Long term, I guess Philly has a chance to build something stable and above-average. They are going to be a mess this season, but a Nerlens Noel/Michael Carter-Williams inside-out presence gives them something to build around. And hey, that 2014 Draft should be a lot of fun!
Davide Chinellato, NBA.com/Italia: I’ll go with the Kings short term and Celtics long term here. Unlike the other teams, Sacramento is not at stage 1 of its rebuilding plan. They just changed their coach and lost a player via sign-and-trade (Tyreke Evans), but added Greivis Vasquez, the second best assist man in the league last year, to a young, talented group. If DeMarcus Cousins finally grows up, they can continue to develop into a playoff team. I pick Boston for long-term because it’s the Celtics we’re talking about. It’s a transition year for them, but I’m pretty sure Danny Ainge has a great plan to bring the historic franchise back where it belongs.